photo: Kevin Lallier/Creative Commons
The latest edition of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization's Food Outlook report warns that 2011 may be a difficult year for food in the world's poorest and most food-deprived nations, with national food import bills climbing 11-20%. In total, food imports, will likely rise to levels not seen since food prices peaked in 2008, and riots ensued in some places. Currently, food price inflation in some nations runs at 15% a year, with prices of sugar, butter, and cassava and 30-year highs. Wheat and maize prices have increased up to 40% in the past few months.
As for the causes behind this, price speculation, fluctuations in currency markets, and extreme weather conditions leading to "unexpected supply shortfalls" (as the FAO puts it, that's crop failure in everyday speech...) are to blame.
Though in June projections showed that world cereal production would grow by 2%, now we're facing a 1.2% decline. Add to that a 7% decline in cereal stocks (wheat down 10%, barley down 35%, and maize down 12%; balanced by a 6% increase in rice), taking away from global food reserves of 74 days.
Rice price rises in 2008 forced many people in Asia to wait in line to purchase subsidized rice. Photo: Keith Kristoffer/Creative Commons.
The Guardian has a good summary of what this all means, quoting TreeHugger guest author Lester Brown:
Much now hangs on next year's harvests... But food analysts said the prospects for a bumper world harvest next year were slim. "2011 will not be a good harvest. The condition of winter wheat crops is not good. Neither the US nor Russia are expecting good harvests," said Lester Brown, founder of the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute. "The poorest will suffer the most because they feel the effect of price rises directly. In the US and Europe, wheat may only make up 10% of the price of a loaf of bread."
Where are the most food deprived nations, the one's with the greatest food security risk? Check this out: Afghanistan & Sub-Saharan Africa Have World's Greatest Food Security Risk: New Report
Read more: FAO - Food Outlook, November 2010
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